Seventy years ago, they were masters at innovation, large scale camouflage - and tactical deception. Bipartisan legislation has been introduced to award a Congressional Gold Medal to The Ghost Army - the World War II unit which created intricate battlefield deceptions using hundreds of inflatable tanks and aircraft, sound effects, phony radio transmissions and illusion near the front lines from Normandy to the Rhine River. The creative, meticulous effort was designed to fool the Germans, and fool them it did. The elite group risked their lives, but drew fire away from their fellow GIs.
Reps. Annie Kuster, New Hampshire Democrat, and Peter King, New York Republican, introduced the bill, which has already picked up over 30 co-sponsors; similar legislation will be introduced soon in the Senate.
“It is finally time that the American people recognize their ingenuity and selflessness which saved countless American and Allied lives,” Mr. King says. “The Ghost Army deserve their due.”
There are currently Ghost vets in 11 states and the District of Columbia. The unique exploits of the unit itself - officially known as the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops - has been chronicled in a 2013 award-winning documentary film and follow-up book by veteran producer and author Rick Beyer. Hollywood has taken notice. The story of The Ghost Army is now under development as a major motion picture by the same creative team which produced “American Sniper,” including actor Bradley Cooper, director Todd Philips and producer Andrew Lazar. The project is underway for Warner Brothers - based on Mr. Beyer’s film and research.
The Congressional Gold Medal previously has been awarded to other unsung WWII units including The Doolittle Raiders, The Monuments Men, Women Air Service Pilots and the Native American Code talkers. Legislation to award the medal to the OSS - the predecessor of the CIA - was introduced this year, and is picking up speed.